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What's So Bad About Bud?

Often, I hear people rail on about Bud Selig's tenure as MLB Commissioner and wonder, "Why?" I mean, I hear the reasons people are spouting, but I wonder why people think most of the things they are railing about are bad things? The arguments against Bud, generally, fall into two buckets. The micro, specific to a team and market (ie. Bud Selig wants the A's out of Oakland) and the macro (ie. Bud Selig has killed countless kittens, and destroyed the sanctity of the game, by changing the playoff format and having games in November/introducing Interleague play/letting the All Star game decide home field advantage in the World Series/so on and so forth).

On the micro front, I would buy the argument specific to the market we care most about if a) the A's had actually moved out of Oakland at any point over the past 15 years that Selig has been talking about the need for an adequate facility or b) I didn't have to believe that it has taken Bud 15 years to do something that has been completely within his span of control the whole time. But, micro complaints are not specific to the A's.There are grievances in other markets that are specific to those markets and maybe some have more merit.

One complaint I can understand, and fully agree with, is that Selig has orchestrated a fleecing of public funds in just about every MLB market for stadium construction. Of the 21 most recent stadiums constructed to house MLB teams, starting with Oriole Park and ending with Target Field, only four have been built with more private sources of funding than public. Of those four, only two have been as much as 80% privately financed.

Besides that... Bud Selig has been absolutely great for baseball. Okay, that is probably an overstatement, but on balance, he has been good for the game.

"What?" You say, "What about the canceled World Series in 1994?"

Without taking sides in a 15 year old Labor v. Management struggle, I can say the result has been good for us fans. Specifically for fans of small market teams and their ability to compete. The result of that labor stoppage has been years of changes that have benefited the game. Not the least of which is on display for all of us now: a greater degree of parity.

In the past 10 seasons (2001-2010), with the new playoff format that was introduced in 1995, every team from both the AL and NL West have been a participant in a playoff series. All but one of those teams (San Diego) has won at least one series. Even more interesting is the fact that all but five MLB teams (Montreal/Washington, Baltimore, Kansas City, Toronto, and Pittsburgh) have been participants in a playoff series over that same time frame.

That means five of six NL Central teams, four of five AL Central teams, four of five NL East teams and three of five AL East teams have kept their Metropolitan Areas buzzing with baseball fever into October. All but eight MLB teams have won a playoff series in that time frame, so all but eight teams (the five no shows plus Milwaukee, San Diego, and Cincinnati) have kept their Metroplitan Areas buzzing with baseball fever well into October.

Over that same period of time, at least one team from each division has won the World Series. The White Sox for the first time since 1917. The Red Sox for the first time since 1918. The Angels (I know, a double edged sword) won for the first time in franchise history. The Diamondbacks, too.

This season, we have a franchise that hasn't won since 1954 playing a franchise that has never before tasted the sweet October bubbly (in any playoff series before the two they won this year). No matter what happens today, and throughout the rest of the week, another long drought will have ended. Playing a game or two in November is a minuscule price to pay for the Wild Card round that has given more markets the option to dream of a World Series title late into the season.

As for those other macro complaints... Without Interleague play I would never see my favorite team play in an awesome facility. Well, at least not for the cost of a BART ticket to Embarcadero Station. Hopefully, Bud will stop the consternation and this won't be a reality much longer.

As for the All Star Game, the All Star Game "counting" is not the problem. The All Star Game is just lame in general. The sensible thing to do, would be to cancel it altogether. Then again, it is part of the big TV package that spreads the wealth in MLB, so it can stay. I will continue to ignore it.

Sure, he hasn't been perfect. Steroids? He is partly to blame for that. Armando Galarraga? I'd have liked Selig to do the brave thing and admit that it was a Perfect Game. Jeffrey Loria as an owner? Yeah, that bites. The long delay in sorting out the A's stadium situation? Yeah, it's ridiculous.

But the World Baseball Classic? MLB Network? Revenue sharing? Wild Card Playoffs? Instant replay? Interleague play? More and regionally relevant divisions? Jackie Robinson Day? The Civil Rights Game? Abolition of league presidents/umpires and consolidation of MLB? No work stoppages since 1994? Even the Washington Nationals and the standing up to Peter Angelos it took to create them.

I'll take it.